Chinese Letter ( Eastern European Literature Series)

Overview

Ordered by two mysterious men to write a statement of about 100 pages, the narrator of Chinese Letter--who's not sure of his name, but calls himself Fritz--faithfully records the bizarre occurrences of his daily life: his absurd conversations with his mother who is abducted by slave traders, his visits to his friend who works in the hospital's autopsy room, and his sister's tumultuous marriage to the butcher's son, to name a few. Widely respected in Serbia, the term "Basarian" has been coined to refer to his ...

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Overview

Ordered by two mysterious men to write a statement of about 100 pages, the narrator of Chinese Letter--who's not sure of his name, but calls himself Fritz--faithfully records the bizarre occurrences of his daily life: his absurd conversations with his mother who is abducted by slave traders, his visits to his friend who works in the hospital's autopsy room, and his sister's tumultuous marriage to the butcher's son, to name a few. Widely respected in Serbia, the term "Basarian" has been coined to refer to his unique writing style, reminiscent of the best of Samuel Beckett for its directness, existential pondering, and odd sense of humor.

Dalkey Archive Press

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

packed with delightful language and playful prose' -Taylor Davis-Van Atta, Numero-cinq

Dalkey Archive Press

Library Journal
The narrator of Basara's 1984 comedic novel describes daily life with his oddball family and visits to friends, including one who is a morgue attendant. The story unfurls in words and doodles. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The first English translation of Serbian writer Basara's debut novel, written during the last gasp of East European communism and first published in 1984. Some guy who may or may not be named Fritz ("Yesterday I had a different name. Today my name is Fritz") has been left alone by two other guys and told to write his story. About anything. Say, "a hundred pages or so." Now-Fritz is, at first, uncomfortable with such literary freedom. Upon reflection, he realizes that his blood is circulating and the Earth is in orbit. Soon, he adds: "I have one problem in life: I exist. My biggest success in life is that I'm not dead yet. My biggest failure in life is exactly the same thing: I'm not dead yet." With the whole of existence as his subject, Fritz then touches on some of the subtleties of his own: He spends some time in the morgue watching a friend perform autopsies. He argues with his mother. His sister, who has a mole on her cheek, marries a butcher's son, whom Fritz refers to as "the mongoloid." He spends a lot of time waiting for the radio to play the song "Fascination." Sometimes it does. Blue letters arrive from the two guys, containing math problems to solve and exhortations to meet his deadline. Pink letters arrive from a lovely teenaged girl who may have once been his neighbor and who has a mole on her cheek. Hypothetical flowerpots fall from the sky and change the course of hypothetical lives. White slave merchants steal Fritz's mother. She is returned. Fritz turns in his story. It's not exactly what the guys ordered. Unpunctuated stream-of-consciousness pages follow. Sometimes the radio doesn't play "Fascination." Upon reflection, the reader recalls that the Earth probably is stillin orbit. "Basarian" is, apparently, used as a descriptive term among those who are familiar with the author's work. Useful to know, since a synonym does not spring readily to mind.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781564783745
  • Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press
  • Publication date: 12/15/2004
  • Series: Eastern European Literature Series
  • Pages: 132
  • Product dimensions: 5.58 (w) x 8.44 (h) x 0.43 (d)

Meet the Author

Svetislav Basara, born in 1953, is a major figure in Serbian and Eastern European literature. He is the author of more than twenty literary works, including novels, story collections, and essays. He has received numerous literary awards and his novel Fama o biciklistima [The Fuss about Cyclists, 1988] was proclaimed by Serbian literary critics to be one of the ten best novels of the 1980s.

Dalkey Archive Press

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